imba students
Nine graduates of Sac State's International MBA program in Singapore celebrated at commencement in May at Sleep Train Arena.

From Singapore to Sacramento, and back

Inaugural IMBA cohort celebrates at commencement

In a Singapore classroom, a dozen eager professionals listened to Sacramento State professor Anne Fuller at their initial meeting early in 2013. Along with a warm welcome, Fuller delivered a word of caution as the students embarked on their International MBA journeys.

“She told us, ‘You asked for it,’” recalls Karen Leong, who works in retail management in Singapore. “Professor Fuller was very encouraging, but she said it was going to be a challenge. She said the more you put in, the more you will take away and that’s something that inspired me throughout the 12 months.”

Leong was one of nine IMBA graduates to walk across the stage at Sleep Train Arena during May’s commencement. The ceremony was a celebration of the students’ success in the program that delivers Sac State’s MBA curriculum to professionals in the Malaysian city-state.

Faculty from the Sacramento campus visited the cohort one at a time to lead each of the 12 month-long modules in the program.

“Most of us in the class had 10-plus years of professional experience and what we needed was hands-on education,” says Vijin Venugopalan, one of the program’s top students.

Venugopalan had a master’s degree in engineering, but he was interested in using his technical acumen in the business world. After a three-month internship with MasterCard, he landed a full-time position as an assistant vice president and he credits the IMBA program for helping him land the job.

Professionals with wide-ranging backgrounds helped each other throughout each module.

“In our class we had people from just about every sector and we also had diverse backgrounds and that helped us learn through this vigorous process,” Venugopalan says.

The IMBA students receive a unique, U.S.-based educational experience, whereas many of the MBA programs in Singapore and Asia are based on British educational models. Leong and Venugopalan say they sought out a Sac State’s program for its practical, hands-on approach.

Sacramento State also benefits from its program in Singapore as faculty return with international experience. The professors spend up to a month in Singapore guiding the students through the individual modules.

“As faculty members we come back with broader perspectives,” says Fuller. “I think it’s very important for our undergraduate students to get a taste of business beyond the Sacramento region. Now we come into class with examples from Asian companies and it’s beneficial to bring a more global perspective to our classes.”

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